Understory upheaval: factors influencing Japanese stiltgrass invasion in forestlands of Tennessee, United States
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BACKGROUND: Invasions by non-native plants contribute to loss of ecosystem biodiversity and productivity, modification of biogeochemical cycles, and inhibition of natural regeneration of native species. Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Campus) is one of the most prevalent invasive grasses in the forestlands of Tennessee, United States. We measured the extent of invasion, identified potential factors affecting invasion, and quantified the relative importance of each factor. We analyzed field data collected by the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the U.S. Forest Service to measure the extent of invasion from 2005 to 2011 and identified potential factors affecting invasion during this period using boosted regression trees. RESULTS: Our results indicated that presence of Japanese stiltgrass on sampled plots increased 50% (from 269 to 404 plots) during the time period. The probability of invasion was correlated with one landscape condition (elevation) (20.5%) and five forest features (including tree species diversity, basal area, stand age, site productivity, and natural regeneration) (79.5%). Boosted regression trees identified the most influential (highly correlated) variables as tree species diversity (30.7%), basal area (22.9%), elevation (20.5%), and stand age (16.7%). Our results suggest that Japanese stiltgrass is likely to continue its invasion in Tennessee forests. CONCLUSIONS: The present model, in addition to correlating the probability of Japanese stiltgrass invasions with current climatic conditions and landscape attributes, could aid in the on-going development of control strategies for confronting Japanese stiltgrass invasions by identifying vulnerable areas that might emerge as a result of likely changes in climatic conditions and land use patterns.
author list (cited authors)
Culpepper, L. Z., Wang, H., Koralewski, T. E., Grant, W. E., & Rogers, W. E.